Headset – Worchester – Palladium Upstairs, MA – 2001-04-07

Where: Worchester – Palladium Upstairs, MA.

When: 2001-04-07

Before I even got inside and made my way up the winding staircase to the upstairs of the Palladium, I saw one kid get arrested while waiting in line, the Midtown tour buses were ticketed and forced to move by the Worcester police, and two idiots decided to kick the evening off with a bloody fist fight. I could tell it was going to an interesting evening.

The Boston-based Headset opened things up with a short set of heartfelt rock, as the close to capacity crowd (about 500 people) was still shuffling into the club. Those who were already settled responded well, even though the bill initially labeled Thursday as the opening act.

The Richmond, Va.-based River City High came second, with a short set of punk-pop that got the crowd going early. The band is taking a break from recording their full-length debut at the legendary Fort Apache Studios in Boston. The crowd appeared to have all squeezed in, and as the members of the other three bands mingled at the bar and at their respective merch tables, River City High blew through material from their previous two EPs, as well as premiering songs from the upcoming release.

Next came the highlight of the evening, Hot Rod Circuit’s excellent and all-too-short set. Singer and guitarist Andy Jackson apologized in advance for the abbreviated batch of songs, due to a “hippie rock” performance downstairs on the Palladium’s main stage. Nonetheless, Hot Rod Circuit proved why they have a reputation as a band that must be seen live.

The guys mixed it up between songs from their two full-lengths, 1999’s If I Knew Now What I Knew Then and 2000’s If It’s Cool With You, It’s Cool With Me, as well as a few new tunes. They ripped through a dozen or so songs, only taking time to adjust sound levels and get the crowd to take a step back so nobody got hurt.

The energy of the crowd was impressive, whether they were singing along to “Irish Car Bomb” or diving onto the stage and knocking Andy’s microphone stand over, prompting bassist and singer Jay Russell to take over for a minute. “You guys fucking rock, give yourselves a hand,” Andy responded. Andy, Jay, guitarist Casey Prestwood and drummer Mike Poorman were all full of energy as well, shown by the leaps and dance moves from Casey, who was sporting a “Somebody in Tennessee Loves Me” t-shirt, the sweat pouring from Andy’s face, and the pair of fuzzy bunny ears that Jay wore on his head.

Midtown closed out the evening with another energetic set. They had played at the Palladium earlier in the year, but this is their first headlining tour, and they couldn’t be happier. Guitarist Heath said before his band took the stage that they were amazed by how many people had turned out, and the size of the crowd only seemed to fuel the band. The energy level was high right from the start, as the band opened with an instrumental that turned into “Just Rock And Roll,” the opening track from their debut full-length, Save The World, Lose The Girl, which was released towards the end of last year.

Besides a little bit too much pointless banter between songs, the set was a solid one, focusing mainly on material from Save The World, Lose The Girl. The band also tossed in a few new tunes, as well as bits and pieces of AC/DC’s “Back In Black” and Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law.” Highlights of Midtown’s set included the potent “Let Go,” which evoked a heartfelt sing-along from the crowd, and “Come On.” Finally, to bring the evening to a close, they finished up with “Such A Person,” which features the repeated line “God gave rock and roll to you,” which seemed like a fitting way to polish off the night.